Whether you're using it for business in the office or to keep track of your finances at home, Microsoft Excel can be a great organizational tool. It can also lead to confusion until you become comfortable with it. Making a graph with a z-axis in Excel does not have to be confusing. The vertical y-axis and horizontal x-axis together depict date in two dimensions, and the z-axis takes the assimilation and presentation of data one step further into the third dimension. To use the z-axis, you simply need to know where to plug your information into Excel.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Open Microsoft Excel and enter your data into the vertical columns. Highlight your data. Click the "Insert" tab, then click the "Chart" button under it.
Choose the graph you prefer, making sure that it is in 3-D. Click "Press and Hold to View Sample" in order to preview the chart you selected before applying it. Click "Next" once you have found the chart that works best for your purposes.
Enter your data range by highlighting the appropriate columns of data and then clicking the button beside the field your selected information appears in. Click the "Series" tab to edit or modify your data series and their names.
Click "Next," then click the "Titles" tab of the next window. Type in a title for your graph and titles for the x, y, and z axes.
Click the "Axes" tab for options to make your axes' information visible or invisible. Click the "Gridlines" tab to make gridlines visible or invisible. Click the "Legend" tab to make your legends visible or invisible. You can also use this tab to determine legend placement.
Click "Data Labels" to choose which pieces of series information and titles you want to show out of all you have entered.
Click "Data Table" to view all of the series data you have entered in your graph in table form.
Click "Next." Select your chart location and placement in the final window that pops up. Click "Finish."
Tips and warnings
- This guide refers to Microsoft Excel 2010. For Microsoft Excel 2007, you'll enter your data, highlight it, and select a 3-D graph option from the 'Insert' tab. Once you've chosen a graph, you can go under the 'Design' tab, choose your series (x, y, or z), and click 'Format Selection' to make any modifications you want.
- Be sure to label your axes correctly to avoid confusion.
- Gridlines can be helpful in relating different pieces of data in relation to others, but they can also make your graph harder to read.
- Keep in mind as you make your graph that you are viewing a 3-D graph on the 2-D surface of your computer screen, so your finished graph may not look exactly as you expected it to.
- Note that a second y-axis is not the same as a z-axis. Making a graph with a z-axis is making a 3-D graph. Adding another y-axis does something else entirely.
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